BROOKSVILLE — Go, Weeki Wachee High Green Hornets!
The School Board on Thursday voted unanimously to name the new high school on U.S. 19 after the region made famous by mermaids.
It took a little bit of upstream swimming to get there, though.
A naming committee of parents, staff and community members had recommended Chassahowitzka High from among six finalists.
The committee based that on a vote by students and the location of the new school, which sits across the road from the southern section of the sprawling Chassahowitzka Wildlife Refuge, said Dennis McGeehan, the school's first principal and a naming committee member.
But board member Sandra Nicholson worried the name was too unwieldy, citing problems that Chocachatti Elementary has posed in the past.
"I'd like to see you do a cheer for Chassahowitzka," Nicholson said.
Chairman Pat Fagan, who supported the name, started to give it a spirited shot: "Gimme a C! Gimme an H!" He didn't make it to the end.
Weeki Wachee garnered about 1,500 votes from students at schools that will funnel into school, McGeehan said. But the committee recommended Chassahowitzka, which got about 990 votes, because of the location and to tie in the refuge with the school's environmentally friendly construction, said McGeehan, who also favored the name.
Weeki Wachee, McGeehan pointed out, is about 5 miles south of the school.
Highland High came in third in the student vote, but McGeehan said committee members worried that "Highland High" would be a springboard for jokes about inebriation.
"They thought some students might find other interpretations," McGeehan said.
The other finalists were Tooke Lake, Pine Ridge and Northwest, none of which sparked much spirit in board members.
Nicholson made a motion for Weeki Wachee High. It died on a 2-2 tie, with James Yant and Fagan voting no. Board member Dianne Bonfield was out ill.
Throughout the meeting, board members stumbled over the word Chassahowitzka.
The Seminole Indians gave the region the name meaning "pumpkin hanging place," according to the Florida Wildlife Commission. The pumpkin was a small climbing variety that is now rare and maybe extinct.
"I do have some concern that in this short meeting, we've been having trouble saying the name," board member John Sweeney said.
When Fagan made the motion for Chassahowitzka, it died on a 2-2 vote, with Sweeney and Nicholson voting no.
When it looked like the board would put off a vote on what to call the home of the Green Hornets until Bonfield could weigh in, Fagan changed his mind to support Weeki Wachee. When the vote came, Yant did, too.
McGeehan said he's okay with Weeki Wachee High.
"That'll be fine," he said.
Tony Marrero can be reached at email@example.com or at (352) 848-1431.